What Should I Do Next? Exploring Career Options for Physics Graduates

In summary, Melissa, a physics undergrad graduating in May from Lebanon, is seeking advice on what to pursue after her bachelor's degree. She wants an easy path that leads to a job in a lab doing cool experiments and hopes to make good money. She is considering a master's degree, but is unsure of which branch of physics to specialize in. She also mentions her interest in the theoretical part of physics, but doesn't see herself doing research and writing papers for a living. She is interested in experimental physics and wonders if she can apply for it as a master's student. She also asks about philosophy of physics.
  • #1
hello again,
I am a physics undergrad finishing my last year, will graduate by the end of may...
I am SO LOST and have no clue what I'm going to do next, mainly because in my country (Lebanon) physicists are limited to working at schools as teachers... This is something that i wouldn't enjoy! So now i have to decide what to do next...Can you please help out?

Honestly this is what I'm looking for in life : - i want an easy path to take after my BS in physics (Spending 7 more years to get a pHd is something that'd make me unhappy because in my opinion it takes too much effort and time especially time to do)

- i want to hopefully have a job in a lab doing cool experiments and simply having fun with it (of course this requires hard work as well but I'm hoping i can find a job in a lab or institute or even a university abroad that'd be kind enough to accept me in it's program)

- at last not to sound greedy, but in all honesty i want to be able to have a good amount of money in the bank cause of the work i do!

Can you please be so kind and advise me to what to do next, what should i pursue? What is my best option to satisfy this idea i have...
Should i continue to do a master's degree? If yes, then in what branch in physics, or even a different field?

Are my expectations too high?

Sorry for rambling on, but as you can see i am completely lost and i need help!

Thank you for taking the time and reading this.
Any help is appreciated!

Melissa M
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #2
Hi Melissa,

In the modern scientific and engineering world, the first thing to remember is: this is a Planet of Specialists. So the question you should answer to yourself is: what exactly area of Physics attracts your attention most ? Is it Mechanics, Thermodynamics, Electrodynamics, Quantum Mechanics, etc. ? Having answered that question first, you can begin making choices. Pursuing just another degree would probably take you nowhere, just because you don't know yet: to what exactly area of Physics you want to devote your life and time. You would definitely need a Ph.D. in one case only: if you intend to pursue an academic career. The academic world involves several setbacks though: (a) you would have to teach students (that may become boring after a few years); (b) lots of politics involved.
Another possibility is to look for a job at a good company. Are you good in Maths ? You may want to consider specializing in development of mathematical software for solution of problems involving different branches of Physics. Your lab will be a room with fellow programmers; your computer and a collection of very special books will be your tools. Are you interested in Physics of semiconductors ? You may want to look for a job at a company developing and/or manufacturing microchips. Etc., etc.
To summarize the above: decide exactly: in what area you want to become a professional. The rest would be much easier and possibly straightforward.
Last edited:
  • #3
Hm, I think you contradict yourself here :-). You say you want to do cool experiments in a lab and having great fun with it. That's the right spirit for an experimental physicists par excellance. Of course, this makes only sense, when earning a PhD with it to have good job perspectives later (be it in academia or in industry, banking, etc.; the good thing with physics is that you have a pretty broad spectrum in terms of job perspectives). I'd say it's the perfect job description of what a good and ambitious PhD student does in experimental physics. On the other hand you say you want an easy path after your Bachelor's degree. This is a contradiction in itself. Physics, no matter whether theoretical or experimental, is always hard work, and usually you can only be successful if you have great fun in the overall perspective; there's unfortunately also enough frustration on that way, so that you should be very motivated to begin with and do something in an area you are really interested in.

The thing with the big money is for sure not so unrealistic in the long-term perspective. Many physicists I know have very well-payed job in industry or the banking/stock market business. Of course, there's no big money during your work as a PhD student, but I think at the end the effort pays off.
  • #4
@NumericalFEA Sorry for the late reply. Thank you for your answer, you're 100% right!
I've been think way too much about "getting a degree" rather than thinking of what I'm really interested in!
I'm going to take my time and reflect back to what made me love physics.
Will let you know what I decide...

Thank you for taking the time to read this!

Last edited:
  • #5
@vanhees71 Reading back what i posted, you're right i do contradict myself :) Life was being a b** to me then, and i was so entirely lost!
I do know that everything needs hard work, and honestly i like the challenges! But what i feel in physics (limited to my experience) the theoretical part is sooo interesting but i don't see myself doing research and writing papers for a living! I do see myself working hard on experiments, creating and discovering new things!

You said experimental physics: sorry for the maybe lame/stupid question, but can i apply for Experimental physics as a master's student? or by that you mean something in the "applied physics" department like material science, biophysics etc... ?!

if "experimental physics" exists i would apply to that in a heartbeat !

Also, what do you think of : philosophy of physics? (we don't have it in my country, but I've always liked philosophy, was wondering if you know something about it)

Sorry for the late reply,

Thank you for taking the time to read this!

1. What factors should I consider when trying to decide what to do next?

There are several important factors to consider when trying to decide what to do next. These include your personal goals, interests, and values, as well as the current state of your financial, social, and professional life. It's also important to consider any potential consequences and any external factors that may impact your decision.

2. How can I make an informed decision about what to do next?

To make an informed decision about what to do next, it's important to gather all necessary information and evaluate it critically. This may involve researching different options, talking to people with experience in the area, and weighing the pros and cons of each potential course of action. It can also be helpful to reflect on your own strengths and weaknesses and how they may play a role in your decision.

3. What are some common roadblocks that may prevent me from figuring out what to do next?

There are a variety of roadblocks that may make it difficult to figure out what to do next. These can include fear of failure, lack of clarity about goals and values, and feeling overwhelmed by too many options. It's also common to struggle with making decisions when faced with uncertainty or when there are conflicting factors to consider.

4. How can I overcome these roadblocks and make a decision about what to do next?

To overcome roadblocks and make a decision about what to do next, it can be helpful to take a step back and focus on the bigger picture. Clarify your goals and values, and prioritize what is most important to you. You may also benefit from seeking advice and support from trusted friends, family, or professionals. Additionally, breaking down the decision into smaller, more manageable steps can make it less overwhelming.

5. What if I make the wrong decision about what to do next?

Making a decision about what to do next can be scary, especially if you're worried about making the wrong choice. However, it's important to remember that there is no guarantee of a "right" or "wrong" decision. If you do make a decision that doesn't turn out as you hoped, remember that it's a learning experience and you can always make adjustments and try again. Trust in yourself and your ability to handle whatever comes your way.

Suggested for: What Should I Do Next? Exploring Career Options for Physics Graduates